Of Clouds and Silver Linings

In some ways this week has been a success, but in others an epic fail!

The not so great stuff:

Husband has been suffering a bit from depression due to lack of work, which affected me causing me to lose the plot at my place of employment on Wednesday.  Tears and sniffling in the middle of the office is not the normal me!  Husband is a plumber and heating engineer and the early part of every year is always slow work wise, not just for him but for the whole sector.  However he is not good at doing nothing and when given too much time to think he gets tunnel vision and starts to spiral and its very hard to pull him out of it.  I try and support him but its quite tough sometimes, particularly when I’m dealing with the effects of…

My medication being doubled.  Hello insomnia, nausea and generally feeling rubbish until I become accustomed to the higher dose!

Then to top it all I managed to infect my work laptop with such an evil virus (and I have no idea where it came from) that it had to be wiped and re-built.  So I didn’t manage to do anything productive until about 2pm yesterday.  I feel so guilty about it even though I can’t think where I’d been online that would have had such a nasty file.  Ack.

But on the flip side there’s the good stuff!

I’ve found a way to give Husband some control over the work situation.  One of which is to finally sort a website out for him so I’ve made an appointment to go and see a hosting and design company next week to see about getting a site made.  He’s also been contacted to do some short notice work and to quote for some jobs so I hope his mood is lifting…

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods

Thursday night I went to the theatre to see the touring production of Legally Blonde: The Musical.  I enjoyed it, although for me the characters of Paulette and Kyle stole the show – probably because they provide the comedy and I was in need of some laughter!  The portrayal of Elle Woods was more annoying to me than Reese Witherspoon’s in the film although I warmed to it much more in the second half.  And no, I hadn’t been drinking!

I also wore a me made outfit – my Beignet and Sencha.  Both now need altering though as I’ve lost over 9lb since the start of the year.  The Sencha should be quite straight forward but the Beignet is going to take some thinking about and will probably involve removing the facing at the waistband and then nipping in at each seam…

And finally I finished two items this week!  My Taffy Jasmine and my Minoru!  I’m really pleased with both and will try and get some pictures to bore you all silly with next week if the sun ever appears today…

Colette Sewing Handbook Pattern: Meringue

So all I have to do now is decide what to make next…  I think a work appropriate Meringue is a strong contender as is a Renfrew.  If anyone has any tips for cleaning and caring for wool garments I’d love to hear them!

I also plan to get out my Renfrew pattern and do a FBA so that I can make one or two of those as well!  Would you like me to photograph the steps I’ve worked out for a dart less FBA on this top for a tutorial?  Lauren uses the technique of grading from one size to another, but as I start at the top end of the size chart that’s not an option for me.  Let me know in the comments…

PS – don’t forget to enter my give away here

There’s a lot of Layers in them there Shoulder Seams!

As the Minoru sew along is proceeding at quite a sedate pace I made a start on my wearable muslin of the Colette Jasmine pattern.  And I have to say I’m pleased as punch so far!

Colette Jasmine Neck Line

First up, I had a bit of a crisis when I sewed the side seams.  Basically I couldn’t see how it would ever fit, but sew them with the full 5/8″ allowance I did and (drum roll here) it fits!  A size 14 Colette pattern actually fits me (after a FBA to accommodate the girls)!  You have no idea (well, probably a bit from the over use of exclamation marks…) how happy this makes me.

So far, I’ve attached the collar (turning that the right way out is a right royal pain in the  butt) and the facing.  The inside is an unbelievable mess as I haven’t finished any of the seams.  I did overlock the edge of the facing though?!  No idea why when I haven’t finished any other raw edge…

But there are some serious layers in the shoulder seams.  You’ve got the fabric and seam allowance from the bodice (2 layers), the same times two for the collar (4 layers), and the fabric and seam allowance for the facing (2 layers).  That’s 8 layers at the shoulders!  6 at centre front and back.  I have to admit that getting the facing to stay put inside the top, even with the understitching and some heavy duty pressing is, erm, interesting.  The instructions do suggest hand stitching it to the seam allowances though which will help.  I may well have been hindered though by the fabric as whilst drapy it does have some body to it, due to the textured weave which may well exaggerate any minor issues with that aspect of the construction.

So all I need to do now is construct and insert the sleeves, an absolute first for me!  I’ll try and get some more photos once this step is done…

New Zip

As for the Minoru, I rejected the planned zip and bought another today in my lunch break that matches the one destined for the front.  But as it’s a separating one with quite chunky teeth I haven’t sewn over the ends of it, just edge stitched above and below it.  Which you can only tell if you’re about 4″ away from the collar!  I’ve also basted the completed hood to the collar as per today’s step.

They told me to pull and gather them...

I have scooted a little further along though and pinned the hooded collar to the top of the jacket and drawn up the gathering stitches…  What is it with gathering stitches that just make you want to draw them up?

Three rows

I did three rows of stitches, the seam line will be between the yellow and matching thread.  It makes the final gathers a lot more controllable.

I do love the gathering detail with this jacket though.  It’s starting to come together for me now.  I’m trying to be really good and not just keep going as I know that I’ll get a better result by staying with the sew along.

A Bit of This, A Bit of That

Nothing really specific to today’s post really, I just need to talk out loud as it were to get some thoughts straight in my head – the sewing ones anyway!  I won’t bore you with the others!

Annabelle's Silk

First up is pre-washing fabric and fabric care.  I mentioned this before in my musings about whether or not to sew Pastille in wool.  With your encouragement I’m going to!  I still need to pick Annabelle’s brains on the best way to pre-wash and care for wool as she seems to have it sorted.  Speaking of which she’s done a really interesting post on pre-washing and caring for silk.  Silk is one of those fabrics I’d love to sew something from, but am a little intimidated by.  Not so much the actual sewing as I have yet to get over the hurdle of 1. buying any and 2. pre-washing it and working out how to care for the finished garment!  Annabelle’s post has at least solved point 2!

Seamless' Wearable Muslin - How Cute is She?!

The other is the age old question of to toile or not.  Seamless mused on this (with regards to Colette’s Meringue) and made a wearable muslin of a self drafted pencil skirt.  The reason why I’m thinking about this is that I’m about to launch into the lovely Colette Jasmine.

Colette Pattern's Jasmine

I have a wonderful fabric with a random star pattern that is destined for the final version, but as I’ve gone down two sizes on the Colette chart since I started sewing (Huzzah! Slowly but surely…) I feel I ought to do a test run of at least the bodice and sleeves.  I’ve checked the flat pattern measurements post FBA and it should be OK.  So do I use some cheap blue textured drapey poly-cotton I’ve got in the stash, use up some more old caravan curtains which are uber crisp (i.e. completely the wrong hand for this top), or launch straight into my stars?  I think I’m going to go for the wearable muslin option…  What would you do?

The other consideration is time!  OK, I can hear most of you saying ‘well, duh!  When isn’t time (or the lack of it!) a consideration?!’  This is wear my in progress Minoru comes in to the equation.  Do I trundle on and carry on with the sew along posts or do I just crack on?  There are pros and cons in my mind…

The pros of staying with the sew along are:
1.  It’s a SEW ALONG!  It’s the whole point.  If I was just going to get on with it why did I hoard my materials for at least a month?!
2.  I think I’ll get a better finished item by staying with the sew along and picking up little tips from Tasia and other sew along-ers.
3.  There’s no rush

The cons are:
1.  It’s going to take longer
2.  I’m going to have to keep re-threading my sewing machine as I move between my garments (not really a biggie, but a slight annoyance!)

Ha!  The Pros list is longer and the cons really aren’t that great.  I’ll just have to re-thread my machine between projects and get over myself!

And last, but by no means least, is the subject of interfacing.  I’m starting to dislike fusible interfacing in garments and am erring towards sew-in.  The question is this:  do I go for a synthetic sew in, or do I use some silk organza in my Jasmine?  Or do I go synthetic for the muslin and silk for the stars?!

Right, I promise I’ll shut up now and let you get on with far more important stuff!  If you’ve got any advice on any of my ramblings though – or can provide some clarity I’d love to read your comments!

My Husband Thinks I’m Weird

And possibly for good reason, if you don’t make your own clothes.  Although as fellow sewists, I’m hoping you’ll understand?  I was sitting in the car wearing a muslin, with pins all over it that were shortening in a number of places as well as holding up the hem.  Well, what’s the point of making a coat that you can’t drive a car in?!

I’ve been tweaking my Minoru muslin as I want it to be as good as I can currently get it as it’ll be the most expensive thing I’ve made to date and I want to wear it to death this spring.  I did my usual FBA before even making the muslin and then set to trying to perfect it.

The first thing I changed was the torso length.  I’ve taken 2″ out above the elastic and this has got rid of the weird bunching in my lower back  and the funny sag over the elastic at the sides.

I’ve also taken 3″ length out of the sleeves and now the cuff edge is about 1/2 way down the back of my hand which is perfect for me.

The final change I made was to add some width across the upper back.  Now I do have a slightly broader than average back due to spending about 20 years of my life swimming 3-4 times a week.  And whilst I had enough room in the jacket to reach forward and it would be OK for driving I wanted a bit of extra room.  I’ll be toddler wrestling, dog wrestling and more than likely lunging for either or both whilst wearing the jacket and I don’t want to feel restricted in it at all (or risk pinging a seam).  Plus this was the jacket shell only, so the lining is going to add a bit of extra bulk!

I used a slash and spread method, making sure the spread along the neckline is within the gathering area and then trued the sides.

So, my pattern alterations are:

  • 2″ FBA
  • Reduce torso length by 2″ after FBA
  • Reduce sleeve length by 3″
  • Increase upper back width by 2″

The additional construction steps I must remember when making the real deal are:

1.  I need to stay stitch and clip the armhole curve on my jacket front when sewing it to the sleeve.  The FBA has given it a really tight curve and it was a complete nightmare trying to match the sleeve to the front when sewing the muslin so that seam isn’t quite as it should be!  Stay stitching and clipping will enable me to match the two up properly.  I’ll need to mark the stitching line on the sleeve so that I match the two pieces accurately.  This excerpt from Shirt Making by David Page Coffin explains it well.

2.  Use 3 lines of gathering stitch when doing the neckline to collar.  There’s a section on this in the Colette Sewing Handbook and also on Colette Pattern’s Blog and the difference that extra line makes to the end result is amazing!

So I’m all set now.  My fabrics are all pre-washed and my shell has been proofed.  I’ve got my elastic and zippers I just need to take shears to fabric…

Oh, and decide whether I’m making the hood or not.  I have jackets with hoods, but I never use them.  If they’re removable, I take them off and if they’re in the collar, well that’s where they stay!  So I leave you with this (whilst begging the Mr Shakespeare’s forgiveness):

To hood, or not to hood, that is the question!

Not Waterproof, But Shower Proof?

This is my water test on my NikWax’d and dried fabric.  And you can finally see an accurate representation of the colour!

I simply flicked a load of water on it and ignored it for five minutes- not hugely scientific!  Most of it has beaded on the fabric which is good, although a little has soaked in, but hasn’t spread.  Tasia did a post about assessing waterproofness (is that even a word?!) of fabric yesterday.

So, my jacket isn’t going to be waterproof, but isn’t going to be a sponge in a short shower either which is great!

I’ve also constructed my muslin and believe me when I say that Tasia has produced not only a pattern that looks pretty good in calico, but also sews up super fast!  I only used the pieces for the outer, but even then, including pining in elastic at the waist and making the cuffs and attaching them, it was sewn up in about 90 minutes!  It looks like the envelope illustrations too!

I do need to make a few changes though to perfect the fit:

The first is to shorten the torso length by about 2″.  I don’t know if my waist is high or I just have a short torso, but the elastic looks better 2″ higher than the placement marks!  So I’m going to take a tuck out above the elastic and see what that does rather than just moving the elastic placement.

The length as is though is just perfect for me, so I’ll be adding any length I take out back into the skirt part of the jacket.

I also need to take about 3″ of length out of the arms as even with the sleeves folded back at the cuff they’re a touch too long, so I’ll pin that out as well and see what I think.

Other than those pretty simple adjustments and the original FBA I think it’s pretty much there.  Once I’ve made the adjustments I’ll subject you all to the muslin to make sure that there isn’t anything I’ve missed…

Minoru Preparation, or What I Get Up To When I Have a Day to Myself!

Squee!  It’s a week on Monday until the sew along starts!  I am really looking forward to making this jacket, so today as I had a day all on my own to do what ever I wanted with  (which probably should have included some housework?!) I did some preparation.

I traced and FBA’d the pattern over the last few evenings, which meant lengthening the placket by 7/8″.  I used Lazy Stitching’s tutorial, which follows the same method as Fit for Real People.  Instead of adding the extra fullness to the gathers at the neckline, I’ve instead opted for a bust dart.  Flat pattern wise, that’s the only adjustment I made – apart from also doing the FBA on pattern piece 9 (lining) and lengthening the aforementioned placket piece (No 6).

So, I then thought I’d get on with pre-washing my lining and proofing my cotton canvas outer.

Nikwax-ing the Cotton Canvas

I’ve used Nikwax Cotton Proof and used 150ml.  As that’s for one item and for two you’d only need another 50ml.  I did the hand wash method and didn’t follow instruction 1: Use Gloves.  As a result of pushing the fabric into the hand-hot (well, a smudge warmer, but I could put my hands in it) I had a slightly waxy residue left on my skin.  No biggie as we have tubs of Swarfega (a hand de-greaser, used a lot in the motor trade) due to the Land Rover obsession of Husband by every sink!

For the rinsing part, I again ignored the whole gloves thing and rinsed, and rinsed and rinsed some more.  This time with cold water,then a quick spin in the machine to get rid of as much water as possible and then into the tumble dryer as we have a dry bright day here so the solar panels are working well but it’s not warm enough to dry outside and I don’t have anywhere inside that’s suitable for drying that sort of yardage!

I also made miles of piping, which needs to be carefully coiled and tied and pre-washed.

Next up,  I did a little bit of shopping.  For essential supplies:

See, separating zip (32″ as the FBA added nearly an inch of length to the front), and another non-separating one for the hood, buttons for the next Sencha, elastic, thread (2 spools as suggested by Lladybird in her pattern review).

Oh, and then there was the not so essential shopping… The star fabric will either be a Violet or Jasmine.  And then the dotty one is a jersey that was £3.99 for 2+ yards as was the plaid in Oxfam!  Don’t you just love the teal of the plaid – I’m thinking a pencil skirt, maybe with a godet…  Like this one!

Next up, the muslin / toile!

 

Happy Happy

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Is how Boy came into the bedroom at 5:30 this morning with two helium balloons! Happy Birthday to Me! I’m officially 30 and it actually feels pretty good to be honest, despite the recent trepidation…

Right, first off, a disclaimer: I haven’t done the draw for my birthday giveaway yet! I still need to do a bit of admin to make sure everyone’s entries are counted and then it will be names out of the hat time! Probably tomorrow evening or during the day Saturday…

So, do ya wanna know what the birthday fairies got for me? Well! I’m gonna share anyway. And let me say here and now I’m a very lucky girl!

First ups is the wee gadget I’m writing this blog post on… Only a flippin’ I-Pad!!! A present from my wonderful Mr, Boy, Ma, Pa, and youngest sister. Well, they’re not a cheap item… It’ll make following sewalongs or YouTube instructions in my sewing room (read tiny box room!) a lot easier! I can also interwebs and email on the sofa with my Mr.

I also received the new Sewaholic pattern for the Minoru jacket (not a surprise, but hurrah all the same!) and the Burda book which I’ve only glanced through so far… I’ve also been given some money (ooh, fabric shopping?!) a gorgeous frame which will go in our bedroom once filled, lots of flowers, a book of poetry called The Rattlebag, some framed pictures of Boy and some choccies of the Terry’s Chocolate Orange variety – Yum!

I’m a very very lucky girl. I hope you’ve all had a good day and those in the USA have had a wonderful Thanks Giving.